Vancouver playwright Loretta Seto’s new work, The Ones We Leave Behind, focuses on an investigator trying to find relatives of an elderly woman who has died alone. We asked the writer, who also penned the 2014 Fringe hit Dirty Old Woman, about the Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre production at the Cultch from Wednesday (October 24) to November 3.
Q. This play explores themes of isolation and abandonment, but is it true there is a lot of laughter in the script and in rehearsal, too?
A. Yes, it’s true! I was just in the rehearsal hall and there were laughs coming from all parts of the room during various scenes. Although the play is a drama, there’s a lot of humour throughout the piece because, let’s face it, sometimes things are funniest during the most awkward and difficult of life’s moments. In the hands of our amazing cast, audiences will get to laugh and cry at the same time.
Q. What inspired you to write about this topic?
A. Years ago, I read a small news item about a man who passed away at home and wasn’t discovered until three years later, when someone finally came by because of an outstanding debt. It got me to thinking about how something like this could happen, what were the circumstances that led to his isolation, and who were the people that used to be in his life. The idea kicked around in my head for several years until I finally had the opportunity to develop it into a play with VACT.
Q. What’s it like seeing the cast, led by Agnes Tong, with so many Asian-Canadian women on-stage together?
A. It’s such a joyous feeling for me to see two strong and complex Asian-Canadian females being played on-stage, with their relationship being the most important one in the story. Agnes Tong and Alannah Ong are true powerhouses. I’m also really thrilled that more than half of our behind-the-scenes team are women of Asian heritage. There’s so much talent in our diverse theatre community, and I’m glad they get a chance to shine.